Sunday, September 2, 2018

What Brush Do I Need?

Fall Leaves, Pear and Grapes

11” X 14”


 Summer is coming to an end and I look forward to the road trip we will be taking soon with our daughter and son-in-law.  The road trip is an 8 hour drive though the “Fall Leaf Trail Of Oklahoma”.  The leaves will begin to show their beautiful yellows, oranges, reds, and varied greens.  Because I have always loved fall leaves, it inspired me to paint this painting of a pear, fall leaves, grapes and a couple of crab apples.  In this painting, I wanted to show more brush work on the pear.  This painting is available on my website

Thought of the Day:

A writer is equipped at all times with sharpened pencils and paper to jot down notes. A cook always has a collection of spices in his kitchen ready to create the next extravaganza. And artists must have supplies at hand to be able to catch the moment of inspiration and translate it to canvas. 

 Tip of the Day:

Brushes, brushes, all those rows and rows of paint brushes.  Which ones do I need?  I hope to help you answer that question in this Tip of the Day.
Brushes come in a variety of styles, shapes and hairs.  Eventually, you’ll determine your own favorite brushes to use. As you paint, you will become increasingly familiar with the way the brushes handle the paint and what they can accomplish for you. Pretty soon the paint brush will become a part of you that you intuitively know how to maneuver.

 Until then, you’ll probably want to experiment with a few different brush types and sizes.  Here are some basic brush descriptions, though the length of the bristles often varies from brand to brand.


Round with a pointed tip.

DESCRIPTION AND Usage:  The Round paint brush is mostly used for painting detail, wash, fills, and thin to thick lines. A pointed round is used for fine detail and has very short hair.  MEDIA: All  FIBER:  All hair, Synthetic


Bright flat with short fibers and square end.


DESCRIPTION AND Usage: The Bright paint brush is short-length hairs, usually set in a long handle. Width and length of brush head is about equal. Useful for short, controlled strokes, and with thick or heavy color.  Used as a general paint brush.  MEDIA:  Oil, Acrylic, Decorative. FIBER:  Sable, Mongoose, Badger, Bristle, Synthetic

Flat same as Bright with longer hairs.

DESCRIPTION AND USAGE: The Flat paint brush is square-ended, with medium to long hair.  It provides lots of color capacity and maneuverability.  Use for bold, sweeping strokes, or the edge for find lines.  Use heavy filling for heavier paint.  MEDIA:  All  FIBER:  Sable, Mongoose, Badger, Bristle, Synthetic

Filbert flat with rounded end.

DESCRIPTION AND USAGE:  The Filbert paint brush is thick, flat ferrule and is oval-shaped with medium to long hairs.  Natural hair is more suitable for blending because the hairs hold together when wet.  With its soft rounded edges, the filbert is also suitable for some flower and figurative work.  MEDIA:  All  FIBER:  Sable, Mongoose, Badger, Bristle, Synthetic.

 Script Liner small round, long hair.

DESCRIPTION AND USAGE:  The Script Liner paint brush is pointed, narrow brush with very long hairs.  Liners are shorter and narrower.  It has a large color carrying capacity. Useful for delicate lettering, highlighting, outlining, and long continuous stokes.  Used a lot in Landscapes for tree limbs, grass etc.   MEDIA: All  FIBER:  Sable, Ox, Synthetic.


Mop flat, thick, soft hairs with a round end.

DESCRIPTION AND USAGE:  The Mop paint brush comes in a varied shapes.  The oval mop has rounded hairs and produces a soft edge, with no point.  A mop brush is useful for laying in large areas of water or paint, blending, softening and for absorbing excessive media. MEDIA:  All   FIBER:  Squirrel, Ox, Synthetic.

 Fan flat and shaped like a fan.

DESCRIPTION AND USAGE: The Fan paint brush has spread hairs.  Natural hair is more suitable for soft blending, synthetic works well for textural effects, special effects and textures.  Bristle Fan paint brushes are also used for painting trees, branches, grass and that sort of detail.  It is also popular for painting hair.  MEDIA:  Oils, Acrylics  FIBER:  Bristle, Badger, Synthetic.

The material used to form the tuft of a brush that picks up and spreads the paint is the most important part of the brush, and determines the performance and the price of the brush.  There are distinct advantages of both natural, synthetic, a blend, and bristle hair.

NATURAL or animal hair is a by-product of the food and fur industries, no animals are destroyed for the purpose of brush making. It has superior paint-holding ability.  Price and performance of a natural hair brush is determined by the “grade” of animal it was taken from, and the availability of its hair. Shorter-length hair is more readily available, making the longer lengths more expensive. Natural hair may be used alone (pure) or blended with other hairs or synthetic filaments to achieve a combination of performance and price.

SYNTHETICS are man-made of either nylon or polyester filaments. They can be tapered, tipped, abraded or etched to increase color carrying ability. Often, synthetic filaments are dyed and baked to make them softer and more absorbent. The common name for this filament is “Taklon.”

NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC BLEND paint brushes include a blend of natural and synthetic hairs. They combine natural hair’s ability to carry large loads of paint while the synthetic filaments provide increased durability. Many of these brushes do a good job of maintaining the qualities of natural hair while making the price more affordable. Sometimes a mixture of natural and synthetic hairs will give you just the right balance between softness and spring with the ability to hold more paint.
For the protection of the hairs on all three type brushes, most brushes are treated with a water-soluble sizing.  This should be removed by thoroughly washing with brush soap and water or special brush care products before use.

 BRISTLE paint brushes made from Hog's Hair Bristle (or Boar's Hair Bristle) are the firmest of the natural hairs. They are more often used by oil and acrylic artists but sometimes find their way into the hands of watercolor artists. They have split ends at the tips called "flags" for holding lots of liquid and adding "texture". Good Bristle brushes are tough, long lasting and maintain their shape for a long time. 

The size of the brush is indicated by a number printed on the handle. Brushes start from 000, then 00, 0, 1, 2, and up. The higher the number, the bigger or wider the brush.  Unfortunately, there is little consistency between brush manufacturers as to what these sizes actually are, so a number 10 in one brand can be a different size to a number 10 in another brand.

I have attempted to answer the most commonly asked questions about brushes to help you select the brush that will produce the most satisfying results.  If you have any further questions, please leave a comment and I will answer them in my next blog.

 Thank you for visiting my blog.  Please do not hesitate to make a comment below or email me at  I welcome your feedback.

If you know of anyone that may appreciate the things I am sharing, about painting, please let them know about this blog.  I hope to offer more painting tips as this conversation continues.  

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